A planned distillery project in Carlow has been hit with a €500,000 bill from Irish Water, the Dáil heard.
Fianna Fáil environment spokesman Barry Cowen urged the Government to intervene after Walsh Whiskey in Bagenalstown was left “gobsmacked” after it received the demand.
With voters going to the polls in Carlow-Kilkenny on Friday to elect a replacement for Phil Hogan, Mr Cowen insisted the Irish Water charge was disproportionate and raised further questions about the utility.
He said it was proof of an urban-rural divide which has opened-up under the Coalition. He said: “This Government doesn’t get it. You are presiding over a two-tier recovery.”
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton dismissed claims the Government was not supporting Irish firms and offered to look into the matter surrounding the distillery.
Mr Burton insisted three in four of the companies backed by his department were based outside Dublin.
The Dáil also heard complaints during Leaders’ Questions the Government was rowing back on its vow to help rough sleepers.
Sinn Féin’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh expressed alarm at reports Dublin City Council was providing people in need with sleeping bags rather than emergency accommodation.
He warned the Government was failing to live up to the promises it made on dealing with homelessness in the aftermath of the death of Jonathan Corrie, whose body was found metres from the Dáil gates in December.
He said the Government’s lack of a coherent housing policy was feeding into homelessness as people were being priced out of the private rental market because of a cap on rent support, or any financial controls on landlords.
Independent TD Mick Wallace urged the Government to seek emergency funds from the EU that could be kept off the country’s official debt sheet in order to build the number of housing units needed to meet demand.
Mr Bruton insisted the Government was on target to reach its goals on rough sleeping, and was committed to a building programme by the end of the decade, with an emphasis placed on affordable social housing.
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